Pyramid Game Exhibition
Location: Tel Aviv Artists House – upper space
Accompanied by: Dana Tagar Heller and Michael Kessus Gedalyovich
A project and an exhibition which summarized a decade of research, The Pyramid Game comprised photographs, video interviews, an installation, and a website. The exhibition was accompanied by an information booth and a “gallery shop” in which one could purchase signed and numbered artworks.
In 1997 an advertisement in the art magazine Studio caught my eye. The ORS human resources company was offering temporary manpower services to the magazine's readers. On the surface, the advertisement had no connection to the magazine's potential readership, which is why it aroused my curiosity. That curiosity led to a decade of research during which I studied the sociology of the Israeli art world.
My research was shaped by questions about the essence of those mechanisms which are related to creativity, and to its presentation and marketing. During this period I created art which touched on my questions and insights and I published a manifesto "On the State of the Artist”. Gradually a body of work came together, which ripened into a comprehensive exhibition in the upper space at the Tel Aviv Artists House in the spring of 2008.
The exhibition comprised drawing, photographs, an installation, an information booth and a series of video interviews with about 20 key figures from the Israeli art world. I presented some of the research and the artwork in a lecture at the Photography and Collecting conference at the Tel Aviv Museum in 2007. Part of my lecture related to controversial issues at the Tel Aviv Museum itself. The lecture caused quite a commotion and was documented in a video which was screened at the information booth at the exhibition.
The issues which emerged from the exhibition were like a mirror which reflected quite a gloomy picture of the Israeli art world, a world which as I saw it was disconnected from its own needs, decentralized with no systemic vision that would allow it to integrate what was in its best interest with its strengths for the benefit of the field as a whole. There was a wide and diverse range of responses. Curators and artists visited with their students and raised questions about whether it could be classified as an art exhibition at all. Museum directors and collectors told me that I didn't understand anything and that I was a mindless boor. There were also artists and curators who felt a connection to the exhibition and told me that it shook them up.
During the year following the exhibition, which also included activist works, I became Chairman of the Professional Israeli Union of Artists in the Fine Arts and remained in that position for four years. In this capacity as well, along with the members of the board, the main goal was to show the artists that their situation was worse than they thought, and that by working together they could bring about a positive change.
Only in 2011, thanks to Daphne Leef and the social justice protests she sparked, was there the beginning of a significant change in the way the artists perceived themselves. At that time the fine arts were among the most under-funded sectors with respect to both municipal and government funding, as was revealed in research I conducted.
In one of my works I presented an Excel chart showing all the expenses and income related to the exhibition. A faux plasma screen, the dimensions of which were one meter by two meters, presented the economic aspect of my work. Inspired by my father, I documented every expense, large and small and I created a record of the number of hours involved in creating and exhibiting the work. Direct and indirect costs were calculated and attributed to each work, so that the data represented the true costs of each one. Not long ago, a decade since the exhibition and two years after the death of my father (to whom I dedicated the work when it was shown) I spoke with my mother about the exhibition, which my parents never saw. "The exhibition was a total failure," she said. When I asked why, she seemed to be channeling my father when she responded, "You spent a lot of money and you'll never make it back."